This paper examines the conceptual and semantic relation between ‘changing’ and ‘becoming’ in cross-linguistic perspective to demonstrate that: (i) the assumption that ‘becoming’ is conceptually and semantically related to ‘changing’ is invalidated in at least two cases in which the meaning of ‘becoming’ does not encompass ‘changing’; (ii) the main verbs of ‘becoming’ in different languages are highly polysemous and therefore are not cross-translatable in all contexts of use; (iii) differences in meaning reflect different conceptualizations of ‘becoming’ across languages. These results emerge from a contrastive semantic analysis between the main verbs of ‘changing’ and ‘becoming’ in English, Italian and Japanese made adopting the methodology of the Natural Semantic Metalanguage. This paper also makes a strong case for the epistemic nature of the predicative complements licensed by verbs of ‘becoming’ by showing that a semantic component ‘it is like this, I know it’ emerges consistently from cross-linguistic comparison.
This article is an investigation and analysis of the word same. It focuses first on the ambiguous nature of same, in that the same x can be (i) one entity seen on different occasions, or (ii) two different entities of the same kind. I discuss the empirical differences associated with these two readings, and hypothesize that they can be explained in terms of the formal semantic concepts of extension and intension: Reading (i) is extensional while reading (ii) is intensional (a “kind of” reading). In addition, I suggest that the two readings do not mean that there are two completely different meanings to same, but rather that the reading of same is determined by context and the nouns being modified by it; indeed, this polysemy exists largely below the speaker’s conscious awareness. I then provide a formal representation of the syntax and semantics of same as a two-place predicate. I show that when either of the two arguments we expect to be obligatory is not overt, it is because same has undergone a derivation to license this null argument—one derivation type in extensional cases of same, and a different derivation in intensional cases.
In this theoretical analysis, we first identify four event components essential to the conceptualization of Realization – manner salience, agentivity, the intended result and the real-world result. We move on to establish an event conflation model which reflects their interplay in an attempt to outline the speech generation mechanisms behind different lexicalization patterns. By offering alternative interpretations for some well-established findings in the Motion domain from the Realization perspective, we also explore the possibility of applying unified analysis to different macro-event types.
Elementary mathematics is deeply rooted in ordinary language, which in some respects anticipates and supports the learning of mathematics, but which in other respects hinders this learning. This paper explores a number of areas of arithmetic and other elementary areas of mathematics, considering for each area whether it helps or hinders the young learner: counting and larger numbers, sets and brackets, algebra and variables, zero and negation, approximation, scales and relationships, and probability. The conclusion is that ordinary language anticipates the mathematics of counting, arithmetic, algebra, variables and brackets, zero and probability; but that negation, approximation and probability are particularly problematic because mathematics demands a different way of thinking, and different mental capacity, compared with ordinary language. School teachers should be aware of the mathematics already built into language so as to build on it; and they should also be able to offer special help in the conflict zones.
If a language regularly places a particular closed class in syntactic construction with an open class—for example, nominal affixes with noun roots, or satellites with verbs—any conceptual category expressed by the closed class tends not to be expressed by the open class. This proposed tendency is here called “semantic unilocality”.
Cognitively, semantic unilocality in language may arise from several more general tendencies, including one to avoid redundancy and one to segregate the representation of different conceptual categories. Both of these may in turn arise from a still more general tendency toward communicative efficiency.
Historically, the rise, extended presence, decline, or extended absence of a closed class that expresses a particular conceptual category may foster certain diachronic processes in a syntactically associated open class. These processes include leaching, culling, shift, filtering, and abstention.
This paper is a construction grammar analysis of the innovative bèi construction in Chinese. The bèi construction departs from the canonical passive construction in that, instead of a transitive verb, it has a lexeme that is not a transitive verb to go with the passive marker bèi. We propose that the non-transitive verb denotes an event (as opposed to a state or action) in which the referent of the subject participates involuntarily. The passive semantics of the construction then coerces the non-transitive lexeme into behaving like one. We will, in addition, demonstrate a case of what may be called a “reverse constructional coercion” whereby the innovative construction imposes its semantics onto canonical passive sentences. Lastly, we argue that the structure and semantics of the construction create a parody of the social reality the construction seems to reflect. This parody, which is based on the similarities between the bèi construction and the canonical passive construction, in turn, produces the rhetorical effects of satire/sarcasm, expressing a sense of absurdity about the event in question and a sense of indignation and helplessness on the part of the speaker.
What determines the meaning of a converted verb? Why do some verbs that have been converted from nouns that refer to artifacts mean making the artifact, and others not? How come some of them, but not others, are connected with motion? And how do speakers’ experiences of the artifacts involved influence the meanings of the verbs? Noun-to-verb conversion has been dealt with at phonological, grammatical and word semantic levels, and explained in terms of metonymic processes and event schema. Yet few studies, if any, have looked into why and how converted verbs acquire the meanings that they do. This article is a corpus linguistic investigation of the converted verbs bridge, tunnel, and tower. Our aim is to find out how speakers’ experiences of the artifacts that the corresponding nouns refer to influence the meanings of the converted verbs.
In Talmy’s typology of event integration, macro-events are classified into five types (motion, temporal contouring, state change, action correlating, and realization) by the framing event. Examining compound verbs representing macro-events cross-linguistically, this paper argues that macro-events can be classified into two types from the viewpoint of “elaboration” (): augmentation (motion, state change, and realization) and adaptation (temporal contouring and action correlating). Based on iconicity, compound verbs can be said to be the best candidates for encoding conceptually integrated complex events considering their high lexical integrity. This paper shows that the two types of macro-events in compound verbs are distinct in the order of the framing event and the co-event, the representation of the framing event, and their lexical integrity. These results suggest that the differences in baseline/elaboration organization iconically emerge as explicit differences in linguistic forms, indicating the validity of the “iconicity of structured mapping in compounds”.
The resultative construction has been one of the focuses in exploring the interfaces between semantics and syntax. In the generativist tradition, constructions are regarded as the surface structures that are generated by a set of phrasal rules. In cognitive linguistics, especially the approach of construction grammar, constructions are viewed as the fixed pairings of forms and meanings that are regarded as symbolic like lexical items. This article argues that constructions are schemas determined by certain rules, and a set of subconstructions may be produced by a base construction. The article shows that the transitivity of the resultative construction is governed by the semantic relationship between the verb and the resultative phrase, which in turn determines concrete syntactic configurations. Grammar constructions consisting of two or more elements are essentially different from those atomic lexical items, a point distinguishing my analysis from construction grammar. Without the assumption of any underlying structures, unlike the generativist model, this article uncovers the surface rules that determine concrete constructions.